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Should someone be held responsible in toddler's accidental shooting death?

Great-aunt says family doesn't know whose gun 2-year-old got access to

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Questions swirl about whether someone should be held responsible following the shooting death of a toddler whose family said he somehow got ahold of a loaded gun and the gun went off. 

Jayden James Piedra's family is planning a funeral at the same time Jacksonville police are investigating the 2-year-old's shooting death.

On Monday, News4Jax spoke with Laverne Landry, Jayden's great-aunt, at her home where Jayden's family members have been gathered. She said she wants to know who brought a gun around the toddler and left it accessible at a Westside apartment where the shooting happened over the weekend. 

"I wish I did know," Landry said.

She said police need to look into that very question.

"To the fullest," Landry said. "Come on. That's a child. Whoever's gun it was, they need to man up."

According to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, Jayden was shot about 10 a.m. Saturday at the MorningSide Apartments on Jammes Road. He was taken to UF Health, where he later died.

Toni Baber, who identified herself as Jayden's godmother, said Jayden and his mother did not live at the apartments, and the two were visiting a friend when Jayden somehow managed to get a hold of the gun. According to Landry, Jayden's mother was there. 

"I don't know if the person laid it down and forgot when he laid it at, but he should have been more responsible because there were kids in the house," Landry said. "There's no explanation for it."

The Sheriff's Office is not commenting on the case because the investigation is ongoing. But when looking at precedent from other cases, charges may be coming, but perhaps not so much actual punishment. 

News4Jax looked at one case involving a Jacksonville boy who authorities said died of an accidental gunshot wound in 2016 at his grandparents’ home in Volusia County. Christopher Scurry, 8, and his 12-year-old brother were left alone with their ailing 79-year-old great-grandfather. The grandparents went out of town. The 12-year-old brother was handling the gun when it discharged, killing Christopher, according to police reports. Investigators said the older child initially lied, saying his brother shot himself.

The grandparents, Robert and Sabrina Potter, were charged with culpable negligence. News4Jax on Monday checked the clerk of courts, and it shows their cases were placed in pre-trial intervention and the charges dropped last September. 

There's also a Duval County case from 2011. Donesha Burney, 6, got hold of a gun and accidentally shot herself in the chest. She survived. Her father, Donnell Burney, was charged with culpable negligence. He eventually pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to 90 days in jail and five years of probation.

Jayden's family members said they're also trying to find out how they can afford the funeral. The family asks anyone wishing to help with funeral expenses to call James Graham Mortuary on Moncrief Road. 

About the Author:

Specializes in Clay County issues, general assignment reporting and stories off the beaten path and anchors weekend evening newscasts.